My father died when he was 87.

I’d thought he might live until he was 90!  I told him so, but he said – no.

He just knew.  They say that ‘they’ know.

There had been nothing much wrong with him all his life.  He had scarlet fever or some such awful disease when he was a kid – ended up in hospital.

Him and this other lad – as he used to tell it – laughed like hell (that’s what he said) when a nurse came in and stuck a great big needle in a lass’s arse.

Sorry – I’m a Northerner, and this was as we used to talk – the grown up ones of us.

But then it was their turn – Dad never forgot it – this huge needle.

I think that put him off going to the doctor’s at all, once he was in charge of that himself, once no longer a kid.

He had illnesses, or he’d graze himself, or cut himself – it was nowt, he said (that was as we talked then).

It was never anything – whatever was wrong with him.

When he did see his doctor about something – he explained that his family had said he should get it checked out – really should – the doctor said he hadn’t been for – donkey’s years.

Dad said he knew that.

The doctor (being posher than we are) said it was nothing to be worried about.

And Dad said – I knew it was nowt.

There was not much wrong with Dad.  Some of the relatives were concerned that he was in his eighties and didn’t wear glasses.

But he said he could see the bees buzzing around that plant – most of the way up the garden – and that garden was long.

I couldn’t see them, and I had glasses on.

Not much wrong with my Dad.

There were a few things, though, in the last two years or so of his life, and he recognised those as being due to old age.  And he knew he had been lucky.

We had a party for him one day last week – when he would have been 90.  My nieces (his grand-daughters) did much of the baking for it.

We felt as though he was there – maybe sitting on a high shelf – just where we couldn’t reach.

And we talked as he did, all afternoon – remembering phrases he would use.

When one of my nieces drove me home – and the way out of the drive was mighty crowded, I said, “Can you get through?”

“You could get a bus through there,” she said, in a voice mimicking his.


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